In years past, the All Black selectors would put together a side to play a lesser team - say, the likes of Romania - and would not award caps for such an international. They would be called, with typical rugby creativity, a New Zealand XV.
That's what we are watching these days - they don't seem like the All Blacks; they're some kind of embarrassing hybrid. There's an experienced player here and an experimental player there (and there, and there, and there). There's a player or 12 being tried out in positions other than the ones they fill at lower levels.
There has been any amount of criticism at the way rugby in this country has shot itself in the foot, knee and, increasingly one suspects, the brain.
There is no need even to run through the long list of woes - rotation, rehabilitation, player drain, falling attendances and interest, the re-appointment of a coaching panel which the NZRU had no business re-appointing... everyone knows the score. It goes on and on like the trans-Siberian railway.
And let's get the but... but... buts out of the way. Of course Graham Henry, Wayne Smith and Steve Hansen can bear no responsibility for players leaving for overseas and lack of depth. They can't be held responsible for injuries.
But that's it. What has happened since the 2007 Rugby World Cup and their re-appointment has been a dismaying, disappointing parade of their already discredited strategies.
Ordinary Ireland and England sides were dispatched by the New Zealand XV. This gave some over-optimistic souls - including some commentators and pundits who really should have known better - the feeling that All Black rugby was on the way back; that the never-ending production factory was firing out brave new warriors with the skill and physical superiority to vanquish the rest of the world.
Nuh-uh. Those who rang talkback stations about 'good riddance' and how the next great players would soon fill the shoes of the departed must be feeling a bit foolish now. The great New Zealand production line still has the conveyor belts rolling but international talent is short of stock.
Against South Africa and the first test against the Wallabies, the All Blacks were exposed, even ahead of their response in last night's test.
So were the coaches. That unprecedented admission that they were out-coached by Robbie Deans was admirable for its openness and candour. But no All Black fan wants to hear why we lost.
Out-coached? Really? Here you go, pal, hold this. Yes, it is a samurai sword and a book called Seppuku Made Easy...
A game plan against the Wallabies which consisted of running the ball - poorly - from their own 22 was naïve and surprisingly optimistic against a team which has traditionally defended cleverly and stoutly against the All Blacks. The seeming inability to right matters reminded us all of, let me see, oh yes - Cardiff and those French blokes. This was test match mismanagement of an embarrassingly high level.
Then the coaches went into NZ XV mode with selection for last night's test. When Leon MacDonald was invalided out with concussion, they chose on the wing not Rudi Wulf, not Anthony Tuitavake but Richard Kahui.
Why? Is that it for Messrs Wulf and Tuitavake? Is this rotation or rejection? Regardless of the rationale, chopping and changing like that gives a distinct whiff of the sour smell of desperation.
Here's a wee list of the strange decisions made recently by this mob:
Announce that you were out-coached by the bloke much of New Zealand thinks should be coaching the All Blacks.
Announce that you haven't got to grips with the new rules yet. Huh?
Announce that we are constrained by our kicking game yet select a second five-eighths who can't kick and don't coach him on how to kick; especially when you have a specialist kicking coach on board.
Short of a decent No 6 after Jerry Collins went? So the form No 6 of the Super 14, Kieran Read, was omitted.
Select three wings but don't settle on any of them except the one, Sitiveni Sivivatu, who is most out of form. One of the two new wings is a centre.
Select the fullback on the wing. When the new fullback, Leon MacDonald, is injured, shift the old fullback back and replace him on the wing with a centre, thus demotivating the two new wings, one of whom is also a centre.
Select as reserve halfback a player ignored for months.
Confused? You bet.
The argument is not so much with Henry and co's selections - there are precious few options for them in today's depleted field of top New Zealand rugby players. It's the way they are fiddling with their team, like a woman at the mirror who can't quite get her hair and lipstick right.
We played most of the rugby? Don't give us that, it's wins that are wanted; needed.
Hansen asks for patience from fans. Well he might. He's supposed to be the next coaching cab in the rank after Henry eventually goes; another disciple of the discredited.
It's tempting to say Henry and co should go now. But who'd take over? Deans? Uh, no. Door. Horse. Bolted. There is no one else.
We're stuck with this. And it is so distasteful that many people have had enough and are finding more rewarding things to do than watching the All Blacks/NZ XV. Like having diarrhoea. Or sticking a power drill in their ears.
Two years ago, I wrote a column about how I fell asleep watching a test match in Buenos Aires between the rotated All Blacks and Argentina. It was a game of extremely ordinary quality and massive insignificance and it literally induced sleep.
The NZRU have finally realised their game is in peril. But they have appointed a coaching panel who won't relinquish their ways; who are still making mistakes; who are helping the game in New Zealand spiral towards an eagerly beckoning gurgler, aided and abetted by the player drain and lack of depth.
Never mind, maybe New Zealand will become a champion in other games. Like dominoes. Or pie-eating.By Paul Lewis Email Paul